Lakes Region Of New Hampshire Activities

Ice Out on Lake Winnipesaukee!

This should be the week! Temperature gauges are indicating that the water temperature in Lake Winnepesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake, is at 41 degrees F. This is typically the temperature at which the big lake is finally freed from its ice-bound prison.
           
Steve and Carol, like other Lakes Region residents, eagerly await “Ice-Out” as it signals the end of winter and the start of spring. It is also the unofficial start of boating season, and how everyone longs to be back on the water!  "Ice-Out" is official when the ice that has covered the lake since late December has melted enough so that the lake’s signature cruise ship, the M/S Mount Washington, can navigate between Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith and Wolfeboro. It does not mean that the ship will get underway, just that it could if it wanted to. Ice-out means islanders can return to their cottages, and soon the summer people will head back to check on their camps.
           
The date for ice-out has been observed and recorded for more than 130 years. The earliest date for ice-out was March 23, 2012, and the latest was May 12, 1888. Initially, the ice-out date was noted by those on land, but in the 1980s it started being recorded by plane as local pilot Alan Emerson of Emerson Aviation did a fly-over. Since 2002 his son, Dave, has taken over the task. As signs of spring appear, Dave flies over the lake several times a day, checking the breakup of the ice at each of the lake’s main ports. When he makes the ice-out call, that means it is official!
           
There are several contests people can enter to see who guesses the ice-out date correctly. One is run by PSNH (now Eversource) and the other is posted at www.winnepesaukee.com, where you can also see daily photos of the ice.
           
Rumors are flying that this could be the week, and Steve and Carol, along with other lake fans, are hoping it’s true. It’s been a long winter and everyone is ready for that season to fade away. With the lake back to clear, blue water, summer is just a warm day away! We hope to see you at the lake!

A Winter Wonderland in Wolfeboro New Hampshire

Yes, the calendar may say “March,” and spring is officially just a few weeks away, but here in the Lakes Region, with our abundant snow, winter is still here. This winter brought record snowfalls, and if you enjoy outdoor activities, there is no better place to enjoy them than here in Wolfeboro and Tuftonboro.
Miles of cross-country ski trails take you through the woods and around the lakes and ponds. Snowshoers also find plenty of acreage to explore and both activities are a great way to get the family outdoors and exercising in the clean, fresh air. 
          
Wildlife is everywhere, and it is not unusual to see deer, snowshoe hares or even a fox. Look for tracks in the snow that reveal other woodland residents such as mice, squirrels and bobcats. Songbirds have not yet returned, but a flash of red or vivid blue means that cardinals and blue jays are about, as well as flocks of chickadees, sparrows, titmice and other birds. Wheeling about in the dazzling blue of a winter sky are hawks and even an eagle may be sighted.
 
Cold temperatures have kept lakes and ponds safe for skating and ice fishing, and everyone is heading to local hills for old-fashioned sledding and tobogganing. It’s great to be a kid--or kid at heart--in winter!
Downhill skiers enjoy Abenaki Ski Area, our own ski slope right in the heart of Wolfeboro (see February 26th blog), which draws families from far and near for both daytime and nighttime fun.
 
Steve and Carol think March is the perfect month to enjoy our local “winter wonderland” as temperatures have started to moderate, with days more comfortable in the thirties and even forties (here and there). The sun is higher and days are longer, so it is even possible to ski in just a heavy wool sweater or fleece, thereby enjoying the best of snow and sun at the same time!
 
We will be among the first to welcome spring, but until then, we are happy to enjoy our Winter Wonderland here in the Lakes Region.

Abenaki Ski Area - "The Most Important Ski Area in America" and A Community Jewel for Wolfeboro NH

If there is one place that sums up the unique community spirit of Wolfeboro, it is Abenaki Ski Area. Generations of children have learned to ski at this small, family-oriented ski slope, which first opened in 1936. In fact, Powder magazine, a leading magazine of the skiing world, sees Abenaki as “The Most Important Ski Area in America.” According to Powder, small, town-owned ski areas such as Mt. Abenaki play a vital role as they not only attract people to skiing they help sustain their love of the sport. Affordable and local, small-town slopes such as Abenaki provide that special fun and nurturing environment that forges memories and encourages long-term relationships with the ski area and skiing.
 
On any given weekend, it’s easy to see memories are being made. Children barely knee-high grab onto the rope tow; teenagers zip off the jumps, while parents glide gracefully down the trails. Hot chocolate and cheeseburgers are being wolfed down and it seems like everyone is smiling. Just looking at the scene makes you happy.
 
In the beginning,Abenaki was owned by the Hershey family who generously allowed trails to be cut, a lodge to be built and a rope tow to be installed. The Abenaki Outing Club added lights and soon people were flocking to winter carnivals and night skiing at the mountain.
 
As time passed, the ski area continued to grow, adding trails and ski jumps. Local high school ski teams started training here; kids eagerly headed to Abenaki to ski after school, and families poured onto the slopes every weekend. The Hershey family sold Mt. Abenaki to the town in the late 1960s and for the next decade or so the happy times continued.
 
However, by 2000, Abenaki was in trouble. Lean snow years had taken a toll on usage and revenue; ski equipment was aging and falling into disrepair. Some town officials wondered if the area was still viable. Fortunately, when word of Mt. Abenaki’s situation got out, the townsfolk rallied--in a big way! The Friends of Abenaki formed and money was raised to restore the ski area to its former glory. A new rope tow was added, snow grooming equipment purchased, and most exciting, portable snow-making equipment was bought in 2006. Today, more skiers than ever ride the slopes of Abenak.
 
The ski area entered its 79th season in December of 2014, making it currently the oldest small ski area in the United States! I am thrilled to report that the last 10 seasons have seen incredible growth, and in fact, Abenaki has seen a record INCREASE in skier visits--one of the few ski areas in New Hampshire to do so.
 
The Friends of Abenaki are now raising funds for a new ski lodge and hope to see that completed this year.At this year's town meeting the voters of Wolfeboro are being asked to approve Article 8 to help replace the 75 year old lodge at the ski area. Private donations will be $350,000 with the town being asked for $250,000.
 
Steve and Carol are proud to have supported Mt. Abenaki through Maxfield Real Estate’s “We Care Program” and look forward to seeing many more children and families heading to the slopes for years to come.